pastry

The Lamington

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 25g soft butter
  • 80ml boiling water
  • 270g desiccated coconut
  • 750g icing sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 20g soft butter
  • 180ml milk
  • Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan-forced). Grease and flour a 20cm x 30cm pan, line the base with baking paper.
  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beat for about 8 minutes or until the mixture is thick. The mixture should form thick ribbons when the beaters are lifted.
  • Meanwhile sift the flour and cornflour together three times. Combine the butter and boiling water in a small heatproof bowl.
  • Transfer the egg mixture into a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture; using a whisk or a large metal spoon, gently fold, then fold in the butter mixture.
  • Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the sponge springs back when touched lightly in the centre and comes away from the pan. Turn onto a cake rack to cool.
  • Cut the cake into 20 even pieces.
  • Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a large heatproof bowl; add the butter and milk; stir over a medium saucepan of simmering water until icing is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Pace the coconut into a bowl.
  • Dip each piece of cake into the icing with a fork and turn to coat then drain. Toss into coconut and gently pat to coat
  • Leave to set on a wire rack.

Author: Katherine Hunt

The humble lamington

If you plan on celebrating the Australia Day long weekend festivities with the inclusion of a few baked treats (and so you should because any excuse will do really) then it’s time to dig out the Mixmaster, and your best frilly apron this weekend.

We are all pretty proud of our Aussie desserts – Pavlova, Anzac bikkies, fairy bread and of course, the classic lamington sponge, possibly one of our most favourite iconic treats.

Like many my age, I have been blessed with fond childhood memories of the delicious, coconut and chocolatey treat that is the lamington cake. My family, with two young boys in tow, were avid participants in the local Scouts club. Every other weekend quickly became a regular social and community affair. Each year around Australia Day all the mothers and volunteers would gather round with their colourful aprons on, producing hundreds and hundreds of lamingtons to be sold at the local Scout fete for charity.

I was young but had already developed an insatiable drive and enthusiasm to get my hands dirty in the kitchen and what better way than having the opportunity to dip them into the gooey, sticky mess that is the humble lamington. Often, I’d be found hiding under the table while ladies busied themselves chatting, gobbling down any of the defunct, fluffy sweet morsels with sheer delight.

I have memories of community and togetherness…..  for me and many others, the humble lamington is truly embedded into my Australian heritage.

Subsequently, 20 years later, most of which time was spent in the kitchen as a professional pastry chef, I’ve not had the opportunity to make many of these little gems. Yet they are certainly imprinted in my reflective childhood memories with the likes of rock-cakes, (strange things that they were) lemonade scones and pikelets, which seem to be making a solid revival in my house these days with two children under five.

I am sure you’ve noticed lately the lamington is a little bit on-trend, with tricked up shredded organic coconut, soft as a cloud gluten-free sponge, Swiss chocolate sauce and numerous fillings ranging from popcorn custard to Pina Colada, pandan and peppermint.

As we celebrate Australia Day this week, I feel it only fitting we go back to our roots and start with a beautiful, fluffy and simple lamington; made the old fashioned way, perfect with an afternoon cuppa.

Use this base recipe as a guide, keep them simple or jazz them up any way you like. Personally  I’m a fan of the jam and cream filled variety but each to their own really. No matter how you have them, these little treats are a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 25g soft butter
  • 80ml boiling water
  • 270g desiccated coconut
  • 750g icing sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 20g soft butter
  • 180ml milk
  • Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan-forced). Grease and flour a 20cm x 30cm pan, line the base with baking paper.
  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beat for about 8 minutes or until the mixture is thick. The mixture should form thick ribbons when the beaters are lifted.
  • Meanwhile sift the flour and cornflour together three times. Combine the butter and boiling water in a small heatproof bowl.
  • Transfer the egg mixture into a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture; using a whisk or a large metal spoon, gently fold, then fold in the butter mixture.
  • Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the sponge springs back when touched lightly in the centre and comes away from the pan. Turn onto a cake rack to cool.
  • Cut the cake into 20 even pieces.
  • Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a large heatproof bowl; add the butter and milk; stir over a medium saucepan of simmering water until icing is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Pace the coconut into a bowl.
  • Dip each piece of cake into the icing with a fork and turn to coat then drain. Toss into coconut and gently pat to coat
  • Leave to set on a wire rack.

Author: Katherine Hunt

Perfect Pastry

Everyone loves a delicious melt in the mouth homemade pie or tart.  Whether a classic zesty lemon meringue or a decedent rich chocolate tart, sweet shortcrust pastry is one of the simplest and quickest pastries to make. Shortcrust pastry (or pate sucree) is one of my favourites and works well with any sweet filling. It can be made ahead of time, frozen in blocks or lined and ready for baking, so why is everyone scared off and why so many fails in the kitchen?

There is certainly a stigma around pastry making possibly brought about by the recent MasterChef revolution and of course due in part to the fact that we no longer bake at home due to busy chaotic lives, work commitments and lack of knowledge. These skills are not passed down through the generations like they used to be. We are doing ourselves a real disservice by choosing convenience over homemade in more ways than one and our children really are missing out.  So forget MasterChef, you really don’t have to be a top chef to produce a good pastry at home and believe me, the satisfaction you will get from your finished creation will be well worth the effort.  Just purchase the ingredients in your weekly shop and set aside an hour one weekend to give pastry making a go. So long as you follow some simple, practical steps every time and you plan ahead it’s really as easy as pie. (Pardon the pun).  Be sure to follow these four practical rules for successful pastry making every time:

1. Why is flour type important?
 If you want that classic delicate crust and crumby texture you need to use flour low in gluten. The general bulk of the problems we encounter with pastry preparation are solely because we overwork the pastry, therefore working the proteins strands through pressure and manipulation.  To keep it simple, the best type of flour for the job is plain old white flour from the supermarket. In the commercial kitchen we call this ‘all-purpose flour’ if you can find ‘cake flour’ even better but it’s not essential.

2. Temperature
The one thing I must stress and repeat over and over again is to keep everything COLD. It’s a great idea to keep the flour in the fridge.  Cold kitchens, cold work surfaces and cold equipment. Start your pastry first thing in the morning before the day warms up for best results.

3. Rest the pastry
Always rest your dough for at least 30minutes after making it. This again helps the pastry to relax and remain short and crumbly. You will find the less you do to it the better it will be. I like to rest the pastry for another 30min after lining my tart base and before baking. A good 30min in the fridge or freezer will work wonders.

4. Tread softly
We must treat our dough with care, be quick, be gentle and take care. Don’t overwork it, or warm it too much with your bands. Just be light and nimble fingered. Don’t stress out. Let the dough relax and relax and enjoy the process.

Simple shortcrust pastry

INGREDIENTS:
250g Plain Flour
75g Pure Icing Sugar
125g Unsalted Butter
1 Whole egg
1/4tsp. Vanilla essence

METHOD:
Have a 20cm round tart tin ready to line, keep it chilled in the fridge if you prefer.
Weigh up all the dry ingredients, place into a bowl in the fridge.
Cut the butter into small dice (all the same size works best) and keep in the fridge.
Rub the butter into the flour with the tips of your fingers until crumbly (don’t worry If a few small butter lumps remain in the mixture.)
Using a folk stir in the egg and vanilla just until the pastry comes together.
Pat into a small round flat disk, do not work the dough at all, and just bring it together gentry.
Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30min or overnight.
Roll out the pastry between two pieces of baking powder till 5mm thick. If the pastry becomes a little soft you can always place it in the fridge for 10min at this stage.
Line the 20cm round tart tin, using flour to lightly push it into the corners and trim off any excess with a sharp knife.
At this point if you have the time, rest the lined tart once more. If you don’t want to make your tart today just wrap and keep it in the freezer for up to a month.
To Bake, preheat your oven to 160c
Place baking paper into the tin and pour in rice or beans.
Par bake for 30min or until light and golden.
Now you are ready to make, fill and bake your favourite tart!

At this stage, if the bottom of your tart is still a little undercooked just take out the beans and bake for a further 10min.

If you have a few cracks then make slurry with some leftover pastry and water and patch up and cracks or holes.